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While social networking is a strongly required asset to any business, face to face introductions are still just as high on the list. Hence, when being a part of or running a business and looking for prospects, networking events are a must-have in every daily agenda.

However, the question that remains is how to become a new connection and not someone a person met that one time. The answer: a strong follow up email that separates you from the other business cards on your new friend’s desk. But before hitting the “send” button, there are three things your email should include to make sure you really separate yourself from the herd:

A Moment From the Conversation

People love to be remembered, especially when they know you’ve interacted with so many others on the same day you met. If you can remember a moment of the conversation, such as talking about their love for macramé, or hearing their story about how they started their business, put it in the email. Make the comment light, but professional and, if possible, connect it to suggesting another meeting. For example:

“I loved that I met a fellow scrap-booker—we should definitely try out that new store together and maybe grab a coffee after.”

You impress the person here in two ways: First, you remembered them and were focused on the conversation despite the busy surroundings. Second, you’ve shown yourself to be a real person they can further connect with either professionally or personally.

(MORE: How to Write a Cold Call Email)

An Idea for Their Business

If you read any sales books, they all say the same thing: Give a gift and you’ll make a connection that has a real chance of prospering. So in your email, give a suggestion as to how you can help their business; call it giving them a personal coming attraction. This peaks the receiver’s interest and will hopefully continue the conversation. A great example:

“I was thinking about your book; have you ever considered trying to pitch it to pet-friendly hotels? I may have some contacts related to this if you’re interested.”

If you have an idea, but you’re not able to help, suggest it anyway, especially if you know someone you can refer them to. This will show that you’re professional and that you are realistically trying to help the person, even if you can’t profit from their needs.

An Action Item

Don’t let it end at just an email that can be passed by; give them something to do in response. Suggest a time and date to meet up again and do a face-to-face follow-up, or ask a simple question for them to answer. This will make sure your message isn’t ignored, and shows you want to connect further. Sometimes (and even I have this moment) you hand over a business card and wonder if it will even be worth the paper it’s made of. With an action item, you show that you’re a profitable and positive connection with initiative.

The biggest rule within all of these steps: keep the conversation going. In one event, we don’t just come home with little pieces of paper, but a handful of opportunities to connect with the future of our career one person at a time. But before this can happen, we need to follow up and follow through. With this small, but powerful checklist, we can make every new conversation evolve into new opportunities.

(MORE: A Clever Way to Cut Down on Email)

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